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  • News

    Deep-sea fishes’ eye chemistry might let them see colors in near darkness

    Some fishes in the deep, dark sea may see their world in more than just shades of gray.

    A survey of 101 fish species reveals that four from the deep sea had a surprising number of genes for light-sensitive eye proteins called rod opsins, researchers report in the May 10 Science. Depending on how the animals use those light catchers, the discovery might challenge the widespread idea that...

    05/10/2019 - 15:02 Animals, Evolution, Physiology
  • Science Visualized

    These award-winning photographs capture rarely seen wildlife and landscapes

    The winners of the California Academy of Sciences’ annual nature photography competition went to great lengths — and heights and depths — to create unique images of wildlife around the world.  

    These images “convey science to the general public in a way that is compelling and digestible,” says California-based wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas, who chaired the committee of judges that...

    05/03/2019 - 09:00 Animals, Evolution
  • Science Visualized

    See beautiful fossils from top Cambrian sites around the world

    For most of the nearly 3.5 billion years of documented life on Earth, creatures were simple, dominated by organisms such as bacteria, algae and fungi (SN: 10/13/18, p. 10).

    Then, beginning about 541 million years ago, life quickly diversified into an array of new, complex forms. This flourishing, called the Cambrian explosion, took place within about 25 million years. Fossils from the...

    04/24/2019 - 07:00 Evolution
  • It's Alive

    Parenting chores cut into how much these bird dads fool around

    The extreme dads of the bird world do all the work raising chicks while females fight intruders. The result: Male black coucals don’t sleep around as much when busy parenting.

    On occasion, a male black coucal (Centropus grillii) slips over to another male’s nest to sire a chick. The demands of incubating eggs, however, reduce a male’s excursions about 17 percent, on average, compared...

    04/17/2019 - 08:00 Animals, Evolution
  • News in Brief

    Peruvian fossils yield a four-legged otterlike whale with hooves

    An ancient four-legged whale walked across land on hooved toes and swam in the sea like an otter.

    The newly discovered species turned up in 2011 in a cache of fossilized bones in Playa Media Luna, a dry coastal area of Peru. Jawbones and teeth pegged it as an ancient cetacean, a member of the whale family. And more bones followed.

    “We were definitely surprised to find this type of...

    04/05/2019 - 15:22 Paleontology, Evolution
  • News

    How emus and ostriches lost the ability to fly

    Evolutionary tweaks to DNA that bosses genes around may have grounded some birds. 

    New genetic analyses show that mutations in regulatory DNA caused ratite birds to lose the ability to fly up to five separate times over their evolution, researchers report in the April 5 Science. Ratites include emus, ostriches, kiwis, rheas, cassowaries, tinamous and extinct moa and elephant birds. Only...

    04/04/2019 - 14:05 Evolution, Genetics, Molecular Evolution
  • Feature

    Saber-toothed cats were fierce and family-oriented

    The adolescent saber-toothed cat on a summertime hunt realized too late that she had made a terrible miscalculation. 

    Already the size of a modern-day tiger, with huge canine teeth, she had crept across grassy terrain to ambush a giant ground sloth bellowing in distress. Ready to pounce, the cat’s front paw sank into sticky ground. Pressing down with her other three paws to free herself...

    03/24/2019 - 06:00 Paleontology, Animals, Evolution
  • Introducing

    Meet India’s starry dwarf frog — a species with no close relatives

    A tiny new frog species discovered in tropical forests of southwest India has been one of a kind for millions of years.

    Palaniswamy Vijayakumar and his colleagues first spotted the new species one night in 2010 while surveying frogs and reptiles roughly 1,300 meters up in India’s Western Ghats mountain range. The frog hardly stood out — its brown back, orange belly and starlike spots...

    03/18/2019 - 10:00 Animals, Evolution
  • News

    The first male bees spotted babysitting are mostly stepdads

    Scientists have discovered the first case of male bees babysitting, and it turns out that these males often aren’t biological bee dads but hopeful stepdads of the youngsters. 

    Females of a small bluish-black Mediterranean bee (Ceratina nigrolabiata) dig out the pith of plant stems to make a nest, where a mom lays her eggs. Unlike honeybees, these are solitary bees with no colony of...

    03/11/2019 - 15:01 Animals, Evolution
  • News

    Human encroachment threatens chimpanzee culture

    From deep inside chimpanzee territory, the fieldworkers heard loud bangs and shouts. Hidden video cameras later revealed what the chimps in the Boé region of Guinea-Bissau were up to. Males were throwing rocks at trees and yelling.  

    Researchers don’t fully understand why the apes engage in this rare behavior, known as accumulative stone throwing. And scientists may not have much time to...

    03/07/2019 - 14:44 Conservation, Evolution, Anthropology